Curse of the Starving Class


By Sam Shepard


A darkly comic exploration of the American family psyche, this Obie Award-winning play is an expository look at the four members of the Tate family who live on a half-neglected farm in rural California. Having driven his family deep into debt, an alcoholic father strives for an impossible redemption in a home his wife has struggled to maintain for so long. Meanwhile, their two children teeter on the brink of adolescence and adulthood, revealing the role their parents’ dysfunction plays in their escalated loss of innocence. Trapped in a grotesque farce of the American dream, we see these four characters seduced by credit and developers, dreaming of escape while constantly facing the reality of hunger. The play examines the death of the American family as hardship clouds all interaction and any mutual understanding is lost.

Intended for audiences 16+

Thursday, March 22 – 7:30pm
Friday, March 23 – 7:30pm
Saturday, March 24  – 7:30pm
Sunday, March 25 – 7:30pm

The Mark O’Donnell Theater at the Actors Fund Arts Center

160 Schermerhorn St
Brooklyn, NY 11201

Produced & Directed by Murat Ozcan
Assistant Directed by Kira Kull
Stage Managed by Erin Page
Movement Director Zëk Stewart
Music & Sound by Carlos “Storm” Martinez
Film Editing by Chris Thume
Set Designed by Hannah Cook
Lighting Design by Saúl Ulerio
Visual Engineered by Ulysses Popple
Costume Designed by Valerie Boisseau and Sara Fitzpatrick
Makeup Application by Melissa Crutchfield
Website Photos by Marc Goldberg
(In Order of Appearance)
WESLEY – Donovan Mendelovitz
ELLA – Kristen Lynch
EMMA – Charly Bivona
TAYLOR – Stephen Gleason*
WESTON – Brian Kelly
ELLIS – Mike Greaney
MALCOLM – Maurice Geddie
EMERSON – Tim Dougherty
SLATER – Samuel Finnegan Cutler
*Appearing Courtesy of Actors’ Equity Association

Meet the Creative Team & Cast

Ozcan graduated from the Izmir Academy of Fine Arts/School of Theatre in 1987. His thesis was on the art of buffoonery within the works of Shakespeare and Carlo Goldoni. Ozcan immigrated to Paris in 1987. He directed and acted for over nineteen years throughout Europe. In 1990, he established Compagnie Ti-a-tro with Laurent Charvillat in Paris. The same year, Ozcan set up a theater company in New York, where he directed The Ballad of Keshanli Ali.

NY/Paris credits include Theatre Journal, Goodbye Godot, Lysistrata (Florence Gould Hall), The Custom (Theater for the New City), and Music and the Shadow People, a collaboration with free jazz bassist William Parker and choreographer Patricia Nicholson (Theater for the New City).

The aesthetic of Ozcan’s productions are marked by minimalism and a stripped back stage world. He believes that the actor is the primary creative source and that actors’ impulses must be freed and externalized making visible for an audience this inner territory. The rehearsal process with Ozcan is one of exploration and discovery within a structure of discipline and repetition.

Ozcan’s understanding of theatre is enriched by his study of Stanislavski, Antonin Artaud, Tadeusz Kantor, Grotowski, and Peter Brook. He combines this with the traditions of Anatolian-European-American Theatre to form a contemporary synthesis. He strives to create a natural, direct, and simple theater, without cultural, spiritual, or personal boundaries.

Creating theater of all kinds from Shakespeare to immersive performance, Kira wears many hats as a teacher, director, producer, actor, and more! Originally from Northern California, Kira received her BFA in Drama from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and has been working in the industry since. In addition to partnering with BAL, Kira teaches Acting and Playwriting classes through the Stella Adler Studio’s Outreach Division on Rikers Island along with other jails and schools throughout NYC. She has a passion for telling the stories the media often ignores and encouraging other artists to do the same through her education and producing platforms. Having also directed and taught at the Marin Theatre Company’s children’s summer camp, Kira’s training includes Stella Adler, Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA), Tisch Commedia Dell’Arte and the Experimental Theatre Wing. Having previously served as the Executive Director of Madcap Repertory Theatre, Kira is thrilled to begin her partnership with BAL by assistant directing Curse of the Starving Class.

Erin Yoshiko Page is an Actor and Stage Manager who recently graduated from Eugene Lang College at The New School University with a degree in theater. This is Erin’s second show at Brooklyn Acting Lab as a stage manager. She has also stage managed at the Los Angeles Fringe Festival, and currently for Park Boulevard Productions. This past spring, Erin played Maria in Eugene Lange’s production of Twelfth Night and she is a member of The Screen Actors Guild. She is so happy to be working with Brooklyn Acting Lab, and hopes to continue that work!

Stephen Gleason (Taylor) is delighted to be making his debut with the innovative Brooklyn Acting Lab. New York stage appearances include A Perfect Analysis Given By A Parrot (White Horse Theater); The Memory of Water (J City Theater); Picking Palin (FringeNYC); No Diamonds in the Crabgrass (Impact Theatre); Waiting For Godot (NADA); The Cherry Orchard (Oasis Theater); Room Service (Gallery Theater), and Commedia Tonite! (Lark Theater).  Regionally Stephen appeared in City of Angels (Gateway Playhouse);  Nite Club Confidential(Florida Studio Theater), and Sweet Charity (Stages, St. Louis). TV appearances include Crisis in Six Scenes, Younger, The Americans, and Law & Order: SVU.


Brian Kelly is an actor and musician. His theatrical work began with his one man show The Story of You (2014). “The work is eerie, tense, wry, unsentimental and alive with restless energy.” – Edith Meeks, director, HB Studio.  Over the past year he’s appeared in several TV crime shows, and a number of plays and short films, most recently playing The Professor in Ionesco’s The Lesson at LATEA Theater. He performed live music & a monologue during an ’interactive’ screening of the film Basquiat at The Brooklyn Museum (part of the David Bowie exhibition which opened March 2nd) and at The House of Yes in Bushwick earlier this month.  Examples of his work can be found at

Massachusetts born and Brooklyn bred, Mike is thrilled to be making his stage debut. He has directed and starred in award winning short films and co-hosts the popular pop culture podcast, “The Mike and Pat Cast.” His day job is executive producer at Nutmeg Creative where he makes television content of all kinds, and has business cards to prove it.

Kristen Lynch (Ella) is an actress, director, educator, and founding artistic director of Brooklyn Acting Lab. Kristen loves making theater and is grateful for this experience to explore and dig into this rich text by the prolific Sam Shepard. She has relished playing with this company of curious, courageous and generous artists. Credits include Flaca Loves Bone (Labyrinth), Savage in Limbo (HERE Theater), Music and the Shadow People (Theater for the New City), The Custom (Theater for the New City) and Ophelia’s Madness (Access Theater). Much love and gratitude to her family.


Maurice Geddie has been studying and working with the Stella Adler Studio of Acting since he was 16 years old. He has also been running his own non- profit theatre production company for 3 years now located at 110 west 9th Street in Brooklyn. His company is called (W.Y.K) W.Y.K stands for What You Know and Who You Know. He has written and directed a few plays of his own. He also hosts talent shows.

Melissa Crutchfield (Makeup) is delighted to debut with the Brooklyn Acting Lab as the production’s makeup designer. She has worked on makeup and costume design projects for the NYC Village Halloween Parade, the Coney Island Mermaid Parade, Burning Man and numerous private events, and is excited to bring her work to this stage. No stranger to the performing arts, Melissa spent years as a singer in the musical ensemble The Polyphonic Spree, touring and performing throughout the USA and Europe. Melissa holds professional certifications for makeup artistry, a BA in French and an MA in International Training and Education. While not engaged in artistic design and performance, she works as the Director of Community Impact for an international humanitarian relief and development non-profit. She lives in Brooklyn

Carlos “Storm” Martinez has worked in sound and mixing for over 25 years. This experience includes Recording and Mix Engineer from 1990-2005, resulting in over 10 Grammy nominations and a Grammy win. A 2004 meeting with an NYU MFA Director moved his career into Film and Television. Carlos’ understanding of teamwork, deadlines, timbre and creativity led to an organic transition into roles of Supervising Sound Editor and Designer. Using the same principles from his music career, Carlos began sound designing and mixing films including the 2011 Academy Award winner for Live Action Short, GOD OF LOVE. His films have screened worldwide including Sundance, Slamdance, Tribeca, SXSW, Woodstock and Hamptons International Film Festival. Carlos currently lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Donovan Mendelovitz is thrilled to be a part of this production of ‘Curse of the Starving Class’. Hailing from Los Angeles, he studied this play while attending Tisch School of the Arts at NYU. Recent credits include 1001 Nights (Atlantic Theatre Company), West Side Story (Summer Theatre of New Canaan), and Spring Awakening (Hillcrest Center – LA). Many thanks to Murat, Kira, the Tates, and the rest of the crew at Brooklyn Acting Lab. Love to the parentals and the babe.

Charly is a stage, voice, and screen actor based here in New York. Her past credits include a number of off-off Broadway theatre productions and indie films. Most recently, with Red Monkey Theatre Company, she was Door in the New York premiere production of Neil Gaiman’s NEVERWHERE and Hero in their touring production of MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING. She was also Lysander and a Wyrd Sister in Barefoot Shakespeare Company’s Central Park repertory stagings of A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM and MACBETH. Most importantly, she is thrilled to be involved with this show and to tell you this story with this exceptional group of people. //

Sam Finn Cutler (Slater) is a Brooklyn-based actor and musician, thrilled to be working for the first time with Brooklyn Acting Lab. A graduate of NYU Tisch, Sam has been working in film and theater for the past three years. Past credits include A Clockwork Orange (Dim), 420: The Musical, the X-mas Special! (Jerry), and the independent feature film Minor 3rd (Carroll). These days you can see him playing original music as the male half of Last Minute Plans. Huge thanks to Curse’s cast and crew, especially to Kira for bringing him on board.

Tim Dougherty, aka young ‘Capote’ recently played Truman Capote in the Danny Strong film Rebel in the Rye.  Most recently Tim starred in two time short film nominee ‘America’ .  He started his career doing an improvised sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live, with Mr. Kimmel himself (and did four other sketches subsequently).  Since then Tim has co-starred on Drake and Josh, Wizards of Waverly place, Blue Collar TV, Late night with Seth Myers, and most recently appeared with Will Ferrell on SNL on the sketch: “ Chucky Lee Byrd”. Tim is ecstatic to be working with the Director Murat Ozcan. Brought up in Los Angeles, Tim Dougherty is represented by Abrams Artists and Judy Boals on the east coast and is humbled to be a part of this show.

Hannah Cook (Set Designer) is a freelance set designer, technical director, and art teacher for children. Her work in both set design and construction has been seen in such venues as the Gym at Judson, the PIT, Under St. Marks, Actors Fund Arts Center, the Connelly, Soho Rep, Rattlestick Playwrights, 3LD, Irondale, The Acorn, among others. She has worked as the set designer for Brooklyn Acting Lab since 2016. Education: Muhlenberg College (BA), Queen Mary University of London.

Ulysses, a software developer by trade, is thrilled to be doing visual engineering for Curse’s amazing production team. After going to NYU for acting and computer science, he tries to combine the two whenever possible, working on plays, visuals for concerts, and experiments with interactive technologies.

Sara is an actor, interior decorator and vintage clothing enthusiast. She studied at HB Studio and has performed in numerous productions in Provincetown, Massachusetts.  Her daughter, Kaya, has performed with BAL for the past 4 years.  So happy to be a part of the amazing BAL community.


Murat Ozcan


Kira Kull

Assistant Director

Erin Page

Stage Manager
Donovan M – Headshot

Donovan Mendelovitz


Charly Bivona

Kristen Lynch Curse of the Starving Class

Kristen Lynch

TG Rose (LR)

Stephen Gleason

Brian Kelly headshot (color) 7.1MB

Brian Kelly


Mike Greaney


Maurice Geddie

FullSizeRender (3)-1

Tim Dougherty


Samuel Finnegan Cutler


“CURSE OF THE STARVING CLASS” is presented by special arrangement with Dramatists Play Service, Inc., New York.”